~ chocolate chip and oat slice ~

This is a great quick cereal bar type of biscuit. Full of oats, dried coconut, and fruity bits.

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Just stir everything together, bake and enjoy!

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Ingredients (makes about 30 squares)

75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

90g (1 cup) oats

100g (2/3 cup) chopped apricots

70g (2/3 cup) coconut

100g (1/2 cup) chocolate chips

120g (2/3 cup) brown sugar

125g melted butter, cooled

1 lightly beaten egg

3 tsbp milk

How to:  Put the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well mixed. Mix the butter with the egg and milk, then add this mixture to the bowl. Stir until everything is well combined. Spoon the final mixture into a lined tin (about 17 x 27cm) and flatten with a fork. Bake at 180°c for about 25 mins until golden. Leave to cool in the tin then slice into squares or bars. I prefer squares as these hold together better than bars.

The apricots could be replaced with cranberries, sultanas etc.

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Great for a picnic or taking on a long walk!

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Filed under biscuits/cookies, cakes, chocolate, fruity, vegetarian

~scottish trifle~

After the traditional Burn’s Night meal of Haggis, neeps and tatties, this Scottish trifle always goes down well!

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There are many different trifle recipes but this is the easiest and one of my favourites. It uses freshly made custard and if possible, homemade raspberry jam. It doesn’t include jelly or chocolate as others do.

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Ingredients – serves 6-8

8 egg yolks

110g caster sugar

35g plain flour

450ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped.

about 9 sponge fingers (depending on the size of your bowl)

about 3tbsp raspberry jam

4tbsps liquid – orange juice or sherry

285ml thick cream

toasted almonds to decorate

optional – 1 or 2 bananas or some apricots

How to: For a simpler recipe use ready prepared custard and skip this first step! Otherwise first make the custard – whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the flour. Boil the milk, remove from the heat and add the vanilla seeds. Leave for about 15 mins. Remove the seeds and add the milk to the egg mixture stirring as you pour. Return the egg/milk mixture to a clean pan and whisk over a gentle heat until boiling. Keep whisking to get rid of any lumps. Once smooth, keep whisking for a minute or 2 until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film (to stop a skin forming) and leave to cool.

Cut the sponge fingers in half and spread one side of each half with jam – be generous! Place the sponges on the base and round the outside of your serving bowl. Pour over the liquid and tilt the bowl so all the sponges get thoroughly soaked. If using banana, slice as much banana as you like into small rounds, then place on top of the sponges. (Likewise if using apricots, place the apricot halves on the sponges). Pour the cooled custard on top. Then whip the cream (and sweeten if necessary) until thick. Spoon the cream onto the custard in a thick layer. Finally decorate with a sprinkling of almonds which have been toasted in a frying pan until golden brown. Chill until ready to eat.

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Trifle is great the following day too when the sponge is deliciously soft and juicy!

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Filed under Christmas, creams and sauces, Dessert, fruity, Scotland, Uncategorized, vegetarian

~quick blinis~

This recipe has been in my book for years and makes mini pancakes or ”blinis” in minutes.

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The best bit is that they don’t have to be served hot, so you can make the bases and toppings in advance and just put them together when ready to serve. They are easily reheated for a few minutes just before assembling if preferred.

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Ingredients - makes about 40 blinis

150g (1 cup) plain flour

2 eggs

pinch of salt

200ml milk

 50-60ml water

How to : Put everything in a blender and whiz until well mixed – you may need to scrape the flour from the sides of the blender once or twice. There is no need to leave the batter to sit, just heat a shallow frying pan, add a tiny bit of butter and then spoon in small amounts of batter – about a tablespoon for each blini. Let cook for about 1 min until tiny bubbles appear and the blini dries out a bit, then turn the blini over for about 30 seconds until the underside is nicely golden and voilà ready to eat! If after making one or 2, you think the batter is too thick add a splash of water and mix into the batter before continuing.

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If the blinis don’t turn out very round, I often use a cookie cutter to stamp out circles.

Blinis can be topped with crème fraîche and smoked salmon, herby cheese and pickles, pesto and half a cherry tomato with basil leaves, horseradish cream and a layer of thinly sliced roast beef, wafer thin ham and chutney…the list is endless.

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Lovely bite sized nibbles!

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Filed under Christmas, dips and chips, no-bake, Uncategorized, vegetarian

~mousse au chocolat~

This quick mousse is as delicious as the other and just as quick! In this mousse there are simply 2 ingredients – chocolate and eggs.

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The quantities of chocolate and eggs can be varied depending on how many you’re making for -

For 5 little dishes use 150g chocolate (dark or milk) with 1 and 1/2 tbsps water and 3 eggs, for 10 little dishes use 300g chocolate with 3 tbsps water and 6 eggs.

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How to: Break the chocolate into small pieces, melt it with the water in a clean bowl over a pan of simmering water -make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave to cool a little. Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl unitl they form stiff peaks. Add the yolks, 1 at a time to the cooled chocolate and beat together until well combined. Finally gently fold in the egg whites and divide among your serving dishes. Chill for about 3 hours before serving.

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These little chocolate pots can also be frozen for up to 1 month!

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Filed under chocolate, Christmas, Dessert, France, no-bake

~ Chocolate and red wine cake ~

This is a recipe slightly adapted from ”Décors et recettes de Noêl - traditions d’Alsace” which I recently got my hands on!

Also called Gateau au vin rouge or Roewin un Mûesbollekûeche, it’s a deliciously easy and moist chocolate cake perfect for freezing and defrosting later when needed.

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It’s another of my favourite – “mix everything together and bake” recipes and is really simple and tasty.

The red wine doesn’t give a strong taste, it’s very subtle and the chocolate vermicelli means that the chocolate is evenly dispersed and doesn’t sink to the bottom!

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Ingredients:

110g Sugar

200g soft butter

200g plain flour

1Tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 sachet of baking powder

100ml red wine

4 eggs

100g chocolate vermicelli

How to:  Put everything into the processor and whiz until you have a smooth cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into a grease proof paper lined cake tin, I used a circular 20cm tin but it’s also often made in loaf tins.  Bake at 180°c for 1 hour then test with a skewer to check if it is fully baked. When the skewer pulls out clean, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

As with all chocolate cakes this one can be decorated with any kind of icing. It’s not a very sweet cake so the touch of icing on the top is a little extra. It’s also delicious served with cream or custard.

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Wrap well and freeze when cool (un-iced) if there is too much or it’s been made in advance.

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Filed under Alsace, cakes, chocolate, Christmas, Dessert, France

~strawberry tart~

This really is an easy one!

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Perfect for a hot day when you want more than bare strawberries.

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Roll out about 250g of short crust pastry and prick all over with a fork. Either lay the pastry on a baking tray or put in a fluted flan tin. Bake at 200°c for 10 – 15 mins until golden. Warm  3Tbsp of redcurrent or strawberry jam then paste it over the hot pastry. Finally cut 500g of fresh strawberries into halves or slices and arrange over the pastry, drizzle with any remaining jam and hey presto dessert!

Delicious eaten on it’s own or with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

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It’s best eaten straight away otherwise the juicy strawberries can make the pastry soft and soggy :-)

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Filed under cakes, Dessert, fruity, tarts

~no cook chocolate tart~

This is a delicious easy chocolate tart, great for when you don’t want to turn the oven on!

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Perfectly creamy with a good chocolate taste and a crunchy base.

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Filed under cakes, chocolate, Dessert, no-bake, tarts